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Golden fear aggression

Georgia Pooch
January 10th, 2007, 04:52 PM
Our pooch Tommy was taken into care in October 2002 in Georgia, the traditional time for the abandonment of dogs who are not good retrievers.

We adopted him through Grrowls in NY State. He arrived at our home well cared for en route, but with a viral infection in his eye (which required surgery), numerous scars, heart worm positive (although it had been treated with no lasting ill effects) and with a piece of buckshot in his rear leg.

He is mostly golden with lab colouring and a good measure of Old Scotch Collie - and is now about 6-7 years old. What a laid-back sweetie, great with kids, and generaly a terrific companion. Our vet wants to clone him as Tommy adores going there and quietly accepts all treatment.

What he has is a tendency towards fear agression (most of the time, but there are exceptions) when being walked if the other dog is also leashed. Sixty-five pounds of lunging pooch is a handful and we would like to help him overcome this. His other fear agression was towards workmen, especially if tall and dark (presumably a description of his abuser), and people with black walking canes (looks like a gun and hefted by my 93-year-old mother-in-law until our son smartly wrapped it with Christmas warp and voila! no more problem!). These latter fears have largely gone with a great deal of patience and soft-talking on our part.

However the walking problem still exists and ceases if I let him off the leash (we live in a rural area where it is often safe to do so). He gets a minimum of 45-60 minutes a day on a walk (on and off the leash) and the additional free run of 5+ acres so he is well exercised.

We'd love some suggestions as to how to train him! Thanks

January 11th, 2007, 09:29 PM
Hi Georgia Pooch,

Welcome to the board! As an owner of a golden retriever with dog to dog aggressive tendencies - let me just say that I know your pain! :grouphug:

And great that you rescued this poor guy - sounds like he had a rough start!

Could you tell us a bit more about what happens when Tommy sees other dogs? And is it just workmen that he fears or other people too? What does he do when he sees these 'scary' people? Has he bit (dogs or people)? Enough to injure?

You'll find lots of people on this board have dogs with 'issues' like we both do. The on-leash off-leash scenerio you describe seems to be fairly common. In my case, I think I was exacerbating my dog's reaction because he can feel the tension in the leash. I am not even aware I am tensing, but its a natural reaction when you are expecting a bad response out of your dog!

There are things you can do to help correct/manage the problem. You are doing the right thing by researching it! You will probably want to talk to your vet and perhaps a trainer or behaviourist about what is going on so you can nip it in the bud before it gets any worse. There could be medical reasons for your dog's aggression so its good to check that out.

Glad to hear Tommy is getting good exercise - that will help too!

January 11th, 2007, 09:41 PM
My yellow lab also has this issue. I agree with TMac that sometimes we inadvertenly worsen the situation by tensing when we see another dog. I don't know how bad your situation is but I found with Lucy that if I walked verry positively and upbeat and said what a good girl she was (cookie bribes/distractions are also very helpful) being, she often just ignored the other dog and walked on by.

My lab also used to have some issues with kids (only ones that were scared of dogs of course) so we worked through that by getting every kid we met or knew to ask her to sit and then give her cookies.

She is very food motivated so we use that to our advantage :) .